Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cartoon 37: Freedom from Wisdom?

At this point, one year and 7 months into the trip, I've worked closely with communities in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and lived in Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Argentina.  Learning the histories of so many countries has been totally enlightening.  

Most of these countries have a strong connection to mother cultures (although these cultures are often not valued in the mainstream societies).  Even though the mother cultures may not be a conscious part of peoples day to day, I believe their presence offers folks a type of guidance in the world that I didn't know I missed in the US.  Since the Spanish conquest in Latin America did not wipe out the indigenous population but instead forcedly integrated them into the new Spanish dominated society, the long histories of interaction with nature, of war and love and creation also became a part of the new culture.  As I live in present day Latin America, I see the wisdom of the long standing native traditions in peoples capacity to live in close relation to each other, to embrace the heat of the sun and obey the signs of a coming storm, to not feel ownership of material wealth and to live by the rule of one for all and all for one. 
Since in the US we are a country composed almost entirely of different waves of immigrants, even the descendants of the founders of our country only have 200 years of history on the lands we call home.  Compared to countries in which indigenous cultures still have a strong presence, that 200 years is a blip in time.  Machu Picchu in Peru was built around 1450BC and still stands strong as a testament to the wisdom of the Incan culture.  It's truely amazing. All of the structures are built with a slight pyramid shape allowing them to withstand earthquakes and other ebbs and flows of the earth.  The Incans were even able to recognize that a faultline runs through the land on which Machu Picchu was built.  The structure that was constructed directly on top of the faultline was built in halves allowing it to move with the earth without being damaged!  

Just imagine the type of wisdom that has been developing over the 12,000 years of people living and developing together!!

In the US, our dominant society is not so tied to the stories of our ancestors and to their traditions.  With our wonderful melting pot of cultures, we have lost a united way of dealing with the questions we all face as human beings. Love, death, birth, health, God... we, with our close friends and family, are all allowed/left to figure out how to deal with these difficult questions on our own.  I think that with our relative freedom from tradition, we sometimes loose it's wisdom.

So I am loving the obvious discovery that I am not the first one. Although before I thought I knew this, I never prioritized a depthful investigation of our global history to learn from it's intense wisdom.  Human life has been done millions of times before, I don't have to figure it out on my own.  Things have gotten pretty complicated but really our needs haven't changed that much.  All we still need are food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and love.  It has given me an huge amount of peace and assurance as I find with each new challenge in my life, there is wisdom in the past to guide me through my present.